Module HXH-1009:
War, Society and the Media

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Nikolaos Papadogiannis

Overall aims and purpose

In this module you will examine how warfare shaped individuals and societies across Europe, north America, Asia and Africa during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, taking a specific interest in the projection and reporting of war in the media and popular culture. This maps on some of the key benchmarks of a History degree, such as exploring a wide range of human history and looking at how the past can be constructed in the present. Graphic depictions of the barbarism of modern warfare abound: from photographs of the horrors of First World War trench warfare to the release of uncensored beheading videos on social media in the post-9/11 climate. As technologies and ideologies changed during the modern period, the impact of warfare beyond the battlefield was also transformed. Indeed, new technology means that the impact of war on people can now be observed almost in real time. The rise of ‘Virtual Warfare’ has made conflict an even more interactive construct, completely overhauling the traditional theatres of war as well as the role of ‘participants’ and ‘victims’. This is not a traditional ‘war-by-war’ military history module, but one that seeks to encourage you to question the impact of conflict in modern society, and to engage in some very contemporary debates. For example, why do some people feel justified in engaging in acts of carnage? Did ‘television war’ change everything? How important have propaganda and commemoration been in modern warfare? What differentiates a ‘terrorist’, ‘insurgent’ ‘freedom fighter’ and a ‘liberating force’, and who decides? How have victims and refugees been portrayed during the modern period? Case studies will be discussed from the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Cold War, colonial wars, the Vietnam War, Ireland, the Gulf War, Yugoslavia, Rwanda and 9/11. The module will make extensive use of film clips, oral history, newspapers, art, photojournalism, video games and blogs in lectures, seminars and assessments, and will encourage students to consult a range of inter-disciplinary reading: from works on media to psychology. It will also include a museum visit to the Imperial War Museum North (in Manchester), as well as a dedicated Twitter account.

Course content

  1. ‘Total War and Social Change’: An introduction to the key historical, theoretical and ethical debates relating to the impact of warfare, and the relationship with the media, during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A chronology of twentieth-century warfare will also be incorporated to provide context to the module.
  2. War, technology and destruction: Technological modernisation during the early twentieth-century had a significant impact on the front line, the home front and on individual soldiers and civilians. Topics discussed will include case studies of trench warfare, aerial bombardment, and how these were conveyed in press reports and war poetry/literature.
  3. Propaganda: An overview of the diffuse forms of war propaganda - and its role in ‘legitimising’ war - with a particular focus on material generated during the period 1914-1945.
  4. War, gender and emotions: This topic will consider the impact of modern warfare, and its media/popular culture coverage, on determinants of femininity and masculinity, and combine this with a study of emotions such as ‘fear’ and ‘trauma’.
  5. Genocide, ethnic cleansing and refugees: From the Holocaust to Rwanda and Srebrenica, this topic covers a number of case studies related to genocide and media coverage during the twentieth-century. It will also explore the displacement of refugees, the role of international organisations such as the United Nations and the growing emphasis on ‘reconciliation’.
  6. War and Colonialism: Often side-lined in the twentieth-century by the two world wars, colonial wars and decolonization had a significant impact on power and identity across Europe, Asia and Africa. Media coverage of post-1945 events such as the Partition of India, the Algerian War and the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya will be considered as part of this topic.
  7. Television Wars: Vietnam is often heralded as the ‘First Television War’, and this topic will consider events in Indochina in depth. It will also explore issues such as censorship, embedded reporting and the emerging ‘celebrity’ of the war correspondent.
  8. Pacifism and anti-war movements: Conscientious objectors and pacifists are often controversial, as they provide an antithetical position to the dominant state narrative on war. By exploring case studies - from the portrayal of conscientious objectors during the First World War, to so-called ‘draft-dodging’ and the anti-Vietnam peace movement – this topic will unearth why many people find militarism unethical, and expose the role of the media in creating war ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’.
  9. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’? War films: Films and fictional television programmes depicting war provide very formative and influential impressions of warfare, and this module will be interspersed with a broad range of examples: from the 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front, to the post-9/11 television serial 24 and its protagonist Jack Bauer. A particular emphasis will be placed on analysing film as a historical source, as this is an assessment component for the module.
  10. The Cold War: From ‘reds under the beds’ to James Bond, the Cold War had a significant impact on both the media and popular culture. This topic will provide an overview of the Cold War, but will focus predominantly on how it manifested itself in the cultural sphere.
  11. Terrorism: Although there is a tendency to consider the ‘War on Terror’ as a 21st century feature, ‘terrorists’ were really nothing new. By looking at media reporting during the 1970s e.g. of ‘Loyalists’ and ‘Republicans’ in Northern Ireland, and of Palestinian ‘terror’ groups, we will examine how one person’s ‘freedom fighter’ can be another’s ‘terrorist’.
  12. Digital War: This topic will explore warfare post-9/11, and will examine the role of the internet, social media, conspiracy theories and video-gaming in changing and usurping the frontiers of war and media censorship.
  13. Whose war? Commemoration and heritage: Through the medium of ‘public history’, the module will examine how wars are commemorated, and how they are ‘packaged’ (often very selectively) by commentators and the heritage industry.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

There are three grades for lower second-class performance: C+ (58%) Work will receive a C+ mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains partially superficial; covers the important aspects of the relevant field, but in some places lacks depth; advances a coherent and relevant argument; employs some evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only a few or no mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient. C (55%) Work will receive a C mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but remains superficial; covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth; advances a coherent and largely relevant argument; employs some limited evidence to back its points; and is presented reasonably well with only limited mistakes. It will also contain appropriate references and bibliography, which may, however, contain some mistakes or be slightly erratic and/or partially insufficient. C- (52%) Work will receive a C- mark if it: shows evidence of solid reading, but little knowledge of in-depth studies (for first-year work the student may not have read beyond a few standard works; at second or third year the student may not have read a good selection of journal articles and specialist monographs); covers most of the important aspects of the relevant field, but lacks depth or misses a significant area (for second- and third-year work this may mean that it fails to deploy the historical details found in specialist literature); advances a coherent, and sometimes relevant argument, but drifts away from tackling the task in hand (for example, by ordering the argument in an illogical way, becoming distracted by tangential material, or lapsing into narrative of only partial pertinence); usually employs evidence to back its points, but occasionally fails to do so or deploys an insufficient range; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways, but may fail to get to the heart of the central scholarly debate or fully understand a key point (in second- and third-year work this may extend to a failure to discuss important subtleties or ambiguities in the evidence, or to a lack of awareness of the current state of historical or archaeological debate); is reasonably well presented and contains appropriate references and bibliography, but makes some mistakes in presentation or appropriate use.

threshold

There are three grades for third-class performance: D+ (48%) Work is marked D+ if it: shows evidence of acceptable amounts of reading,but does not go much beyond what was referenced in lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers much of the necessary ground but fails to discuss one or a few vital aspects of a topic; deploys relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole, or sustains a clear argument only for the greater part of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points, but sometimes fails to do so, or shows difficulty in weighing evidence, or chooses unreliable evidence; displays an awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but without devoting sustained discussion to this; is for the most part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious problems in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but occasionally misunderstands their appropriate use or makes mistakes in their presentation.

D (45%) Work is marked D if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based partly on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers some of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some relevant material but partly fails to combine it into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only some parts of the piece; deploys some evidence to support individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical or inappropriate evidence; shows some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is often correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.

D- (42%) Work is marked D- if it: shows evidence of an acceptable minimum of reading, based largely on lecture notes and/or a basic textbook; covers parts of the necessary ground but fails to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; deploys some potentially relevant material but fails to bring it together into a coherent whole or sustains a clear argument for only parts of the piece; occasionally deploys evidence to back some individual points but often fails to do so or shows difficulty weighing evidence or chooses unreliable, atypical, or inappropriate evidence; may show some awareness that the past can be interpreted in different ways but the differences will not receive sustained discussion or analysis; is in part correctly presented but has sections where there are serious difficulties in presentation, style, spelling, grammar, or paragraph construction (but see section on dyslexia below); and uses references and bibliography where needed but sometimes misunderstands their appropriate use or makes serious mistakes in their presentation.

In addition, for work that fails to meet the standard for honours:

E+ (38%) Reading: Work may show evidence of reading—but this is largely cursory Content: Work discusses a limited number of the basic aspects of a topic, but leaves many out; or shows largely a limited knowledge of those it discusses; or is short weight; or makes major mistakes about the pattern of events. Argument: Work is mostly badly organized; or has a largely unclear argument; or makes an argument which is quite irrelevant to the task in hand. Analysis: Work deploys only a limited amount of evidence and tends more to express opinion without much support from historical fact (or archaeological evidence); or misuses evidence; or indicates only a limited sense that evidence can be interpreted in different ways. Presentation: Work makes some serious mistakes in presentation or writing style or in coherence; or makes some serious errors in grammar, spelling, or paragraph construction (but see guidelines on dyslexia below). Scholarly apparatus: Work prone to misuse references and bibliography, or inconsistent in recognizing when these are essential.

excellent

There are four grades for first-class performance:

A* (95%) At this level, first-class work earns its mark by showing genuine originality. It may advance a novel argument or deal with evidence which has not been considered before. Such originality of ideas or evidence is coupled with the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected of first-class work graded at A or A+. At this level, the work exhausts relevant secondary material, includes in dissertation work extensive and often unanticipated primary evidence, and betrays no factual or interpretative inaccuracy. It can also show a mastery of theory and deploy hypotheses subtly and imaginatively. In the case of essays and dissertations, work of this standard will be impeccable in presentation and will be publishable.

A+ (87%) At this level, first-class work will also have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail, but will further deploy the evidence consistently accurately and give indications of deploying unexpected primary and secondary sources. It will habitually demonstrate a particularly acute and critical awareness of the historiography and/or archaeological debate, including conceptual approaches, and give a particularly impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It will show a particularly sophisticated approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. It will be original work. The standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently first-class work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be very high.

A (80%) At this level, first-class work will have its argument supported by an impressive wealth and relevance of detail. It will usually also demonstrate an acute awareness of historiography and/or archaeological debate, and give an impressive account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical or archaeological debate. It may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, moderating the line taken in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. In essays and dissertations standards of presentation will be high.

A- (74%) A first-class mark at this level is often earned simply by demonstrating one or more of the features of a good upper-second essay to a peculiar degree, for example presenting a particularly strong organization of argument, strong focus, wide range of reading, engagement with the historiography and/or archaeological debate, depth of understanding, an unobjectionable style, and strong presentation.

good

There are three grades for upper second-class performance:

B+ (68%) Work will receive a B+ mark if it is consistently strong in: covering the necessary ground in depth and detail; advancing a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analysis and deployment of an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and consideration of possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

B (65%) Work will receive a B mark if it: is clear that it is based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in depth and detail; advances a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

B- (62%) Work will receive a B- mark if it: is clearly based on solid reading; covers the necessary ground in some depth and detail; advances a properly-structured, relevant, and focused argument; analyses and deploys an appropriate range of historical and/or archaeological evidence and considers possible differences of interpretation; and is correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.

Learning outcomes

    1. Differentiate between ‘academic’ and ‘public’ history.
    1. Exhibit an awareness of the role of the media and popular culture in shaping and reporting those events.
    1. Critically appraise and analyse different historical interpretations of war and the media during the modern period.
    1. Construct historical arguments by utilising a range of inter-disciplinary primary and secondary sources as evidence in assessed work (summative) and in seminar debates.
    1. Communicate ideas clearly and lucidly in seminar discussions, written work and the podcast.
    1. Develop and reinforce foundational study skills taught across Year 1 e.g. using reading lists, applying scholarly apparatus, reflecting on feedback etc.
    1. Produce their own digital recording/podcast based on a module topic.
    1. Demonstrate knowledge of some of the major events, concepts and problems relating to the impact of warfare on societies during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
INDIVIDUAL BLOG Podcast

For this assignment, you will be required to produce an ‘Open Educational Resource’ as a vodcast/podcast: it will probably take the form of a Powerpoint with narration, explaining one of the topics identified in the module handbook at the beginning of the module. The purpose of this is to familiarise you with the concept of public history. Public history, in very broad terms, means the way history is applied to a public audience, and it is an increasingly important form of communication for historians. You should select one topic from the list, and then produce a 4-5 minute audiovisual presentation explaining the topic and its significance. It should be geared towards the general public. Answers will be graded by considering the depth of the historiographical engagement in the content, quality and clarity of the production and how well it relates to a public audience and its viability as a public history resource.

30
Written assignment, including essay Film Review

Writing a review – be that of a book, a film, music etc. – helps to develop skills such as critical thought, interpretation and evaluation, particularly when the review is linked to the broader scholarship and historiography on a topic. The emphasis in this academic film review will be on the authenticity and legitimacy of film drama as a historical source. It is not quite the same as the more popular film reviews found in newspapers or on many Googled websites. You should select one film from the list provided and write a review of how your film represents that particular aspect of war; the extent to which it reflects historical events, and whether historical authenticity is important when it comes to film. Answers will be graded by considering all of these factors.

30
EXAM Exam

Examinations are a test of your ability to bring together a range of historical information; to understand historical questions quickly; to select the material relevant to making specific arguments; and to construct arguments quickly and flexibly. The exam will last TWO hours and you must answer TWO questions.

40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
External visit

This module will include a museum visit to a location such as the Imperial War Museum North. This will provide students with the opportunity to view how modern warfare is projected in public history and by the heritage industry, and could be useful for the podcast/digital story assessment on the module.

4
Seminar

10 seminars will be held on this module, and each will be 1 hour long. They will involve you being in a small group of c. 10-12 students led by a staff member or a PhD researcher. A seminar is an opportunity to focus in-depth on specific topics, sources and assessments, and also to engage in debate with your peers. Seminars on WSM will place particular attention on specific types of sources – from poetry to oral history – and will help you prepare for all your assignments, in particular the Audiovisual assignment and the Film Review. You MUST prepare for seminars by completing all the required reading for the sessions. There will be a focus in seminars both on small group work and on whole group presentations, so preparation is essential. You will be set preparatory work for your seminars, and these tasks will be released on Blackboard a week beforehand.

10
Private study

Although the teaching methods utilised in this module will provide you with a strong foundation in the topic, it also requires you to be proactive in terms of reading extensively around subjects, preparing for classes, writing assignments and responding to feedback. Devoting time to independent learning demonstrates strong personal motivation, and is a skill which is much valued by employers.

166
Lecture

20 lectures will be held, and each will be an hour long. Attendance at all the lectures is essential as they form the backbone of this course. The lectures will provide you with knowledge and understanding of the key themes and issues related to War, Society and the Media. They will also provide an overview of the historiography and access to primary sources. As no lecture can be expected to cover every detail of a topic, their ultimate purpose is to act as a starting point for furthering your own private study. Any essay or exam answer which is based solely on lecture notes will be penalised.

20

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
  • presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
  • preparing effective written communications for different readerships
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity

Resources

Resource implications for students

None, unless they decide to buy a textbook.

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/hxh-1009.html

Reading list

S. L. Carruthers, The Media at War (2nd edition, 2011). M. Connelly & D. Welch, War and the Media: Reportage and Propaganda 1900-2003 (2005). P. Hammond (ed.), Screens of terror : representations of war and terrorism in film and television since 9/11 (2011). N.Hayes et al, Millions like Us: British culture in the Second World War (1999). A. Marwick, Total war and social change (1988). A. Marwick et al (eds.), Total War and Historical Change (2001). I. Stewart & S. L. Carruthers, War, Culture and the Media (1996). P. Young and P. Jesser, The media and the military (1997).

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: